William Crawley of the BBC conducts an excellent interview with Richard Dawkins. Anyone wishing to get an idea of what the controversy surrounding Dawkins' views is all about will find this session to be a useful introduction.
In the course of the interview Dawkins makes some interesting claims. For example, there's this one:
"Before Darwin it was very hard (intellectually) to be an atheist. After Darwin it was very hard not to be one. Darwinism makes it very hard to be a theist."
So much for efforts by those who believe that one can be both a Darwinian and a theist to find common ground with the anti-theist Darwinians. For people like Dawkins there is no common ground. One is either a complete naturalistic materialist or a superstitious ignoramus.
It should be mentioned that the word "Darwinism" isn't strictly synonomous with "evolution." Darwinism is the metaphysical belief that materialistic, natural processes and forces are adequate by themselves to account for all aspects of life. It is possible to be both a theist and an evolutionist, but I agree with Dawkins that it is very difficult to be a Darwinian evolutionist and a theist.
Dawkins then wonders:
"Why should there be a point to life? The meaning of life is whatever you make it. From a Darwinian point of view it is to propagate the species."
In other words, as long as you don't give the question of purpose too much thought you can avoid the depression and despair that seeps into the psyche when it begins to dawn on people that their lives are merely "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Dawkins seems to recognize that materialism strips life of any real meaning or purpose and leaves us to try to find some reason for getting out of bed in the morning. For Dawkins meaning comes from trying to prove there is no God, but as I think C.S. Lewis pointed out, there's something peculiar about making it one's purpose to prove that there is no purpose.
He adds that:
"It doesn't make much sense to go around and count the number of people who believe something in order to decide whether [a belief] is a delusion or not. The best thing to do is to look at the arguments for or against a belief."
Precisely. Which is why it's somewhat beside the point to insist, as so many anti-IDers do, that ID is bogus because no top scientists believe it. This is a diversion and a fallacy. What's important is not whether a majority of scientists believe something but rather the reasons why they believe it or don't beleive it. In many cases Darwinism is embraced because it is a necessary crutch to sustain a materialist metaphysics. In other words, as Dawkins has said elsewhere, Darwinism makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
In response to the extraordinary fine-tuning of the universe Dawkins offers three counter-arguments:
He first raises the question of where the designer comes from. If God designed the universe, he asks, then what designed God?
His second reply, which he conflates with the third but which is really a distinct argument, is what is called the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP). It says that we should not think it so very special that the universe is as it is for were it not, we would not be around to notice it. The fact that we exist means that the universe must be tuned as precisely as it is.
Sensing perhaps, the absurdity of the WAP he quickly imports a completely unscientific, non-empirical speculative hypothesis called the Multiverse theory. According to this, our universe is just one of an innumerable array of universes each having different parameters, values and laws. Given the existence of so many worlds it becomes more likely, even probable, that one world will be structured the way ours is.
Think of it this way: The chances that somebody is going to be holding the winning lottery ticket increase as the number of tickets sold increases. The more tickets/universes, the more likely one of them will have just the right sequence of numbers.
I'd like to consider these three arguments in another post.RLC